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A note to readers: Vice Media had launched a “Weed Week” promotional campaign to support its show Weediquette. Last year I applied for two WeedWeek trademarks to avoid conflicts like this and both are advancing through the approval process.

After hearing about Vice's promotion, I approached the company. The short version is I asked for a $2,500 license fee for the use of Weed Week this year – essentially enough to cover my legal fees. Vice’s outside counsel rejected my claim and offered me a nuisance payment $2,500 to let Vice use “Weed Week” in perpetuity. I declined the offer.

I’m not sure who’d win if I took Vice to court and don’t have the resources to find out. One important factor in trademark cases is whether an ordinary person could be confused between our respective brands. Emails I have received suggest that some people were confused by Vice's campaign. (“At first I thought maybe you were doing a thing with Viceland,” someone wrote.) What do you think? https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/weedweek/

It’s possible that this is a coincidence. It’s also possible that decision makers at Vice were aware of WeedWeek and/or my trademark application and disregarded it. They could have stumbled on it in several ways: WeedWeek frequently links to Vice’s journalism, occasionally on request, and roughly a dozen vice-dot-com email addresses receive WeedWeek every Saturday. My newsletter is the first hit if you Google WeedWeek, Weed Week or “Weed Week”. Someone at Vice could also have done a free and instant trademark search.

I admire much of what Vice does and have friends and acquaintances who’ve worked with the company. As I freelancer, I also noticed last year’s Columbia Journalism Review story called “ Vice Shows How Not to Treat Freelancers.” This recognition is something of an achievement, considering how most publications treat freelancers. Following the story, Vice’s head of content Ciel Hunter reminded staff that “ VICE and freelancers depend on each other."

My case is not an exact parallel, but I believe Vice’s response to me carries the same whiff of contempt for the little guy. This is not an attractive pose for a media company that considers calling out bad behavior part of its mission.

My livelihood is entwined with the trademark WeedWeek, and I’ve taken reasonable steps to protect it. Vice and WeedWeek are part of the same community and potential allies. After this week's promotion ends I hope Vice can recognize that and use another brand.

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Here's the news:

Politics

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau unveiled legislation to legalize marijuana nationwide. If Canada legalizes next year, as expected, it would be the second country, after Uruguay, to fully legalize. Canada expects legal REC sales to begin in mid-2018, though perhaps not on Canada Day, July 1. See the proposal here. For the press release see here.

The proposal would establish a minimum purchasing age of 18, though individual provinces could raise it. Growers would be federally licensed while provinces would regulate distribution and sales.

Criminal penalties for unsanctioned business will be strict. As it moves forward, Canada will likely be in violation of several international treaties.

Many details remain unclear. Brian Linton CEO of Canopy Growth, the country’s largest grower, expects rules to require “really boring packaging, for sure, which we’re not necessarily in favor of.”

In preparation, the government is accelerating its business licensing process.

Legalization is expected to catalyze industry consolidation. Canada stands to take in C$675M a year in pot taxes.

Jimmy Kimmel joked that Canada is about to become “ the stoner living in America’s attic.” Response from the Trump administration was muted.

An opinion piece in The Hill discusses the “ sensible taxes” in Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s (D-Ore.) proposed path to federal legalization.

Blumenauer is one of 44 House members who want to extend the Feds’ current hands-off legal MED policy. He expects legislative activity to pick up after the April recess.

California lawmakers are considering dozens of cannabis bills. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) supports rules that would make it easier to start a cannabis business.

Kevin Sabet’s anti-legalization group SAM Action Inc., faces $6,000 in fines for campaign finance violations related to its work opposing November’s REC vote in California.

Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) suggested that Trump son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner would tell the president not to crack down. “How can you be 36 years old and grow up in New York City and be for having people jailed for marijuana?" Cohen asked.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) said the federal government should decriminalize marijuana.

Pro-cannabis Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Co.) is running for governor of Colorado. Current Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) will be term-limited next year and is considered a possible presidential candidate in 2020.

An anti-drug group is helping to craft Florida’s MED rules.

Oregon lawmakers passed a bill to protect pot users’ data from the feds. Rhode Island lawmakers say they have the votes to pass REC through the legislature.

Massachusetts pols are angling for a seat on the state pot Commission. More than 600 Californians have applied to be on the state Cannabis Advisory Committee.

A REC bill needs a miracle to pass the Vermont legislature, a supporter said. A bill in Nevada would blur the difference between MED and REC.

No one in the Alabama legislature is pushing for MED reform. But legalization is popular in the deep south state. The plan to grow MED at Louisiana State University has attracted skepticism.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D) has mixed feelings about decriminalizing.

Selling REC is still illegal in Maine, but some producers gift their product and accept payment for shipping and handling.

Ohio appears eager to start collecting license and application fees from MED businesses. It will start accepting grow applications in June.

Humboldt County is considering new regulations for commercial growers.

Industrial hemp faces long odds in Missouri. In light of moves in Washington, Guam is abandoning a REC legalization push.
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Business

Worried about a crackdown by U.S. AG Jeff Sessions (R), dozens of ancillary companies have been purged by payment processors like Square, Inc. reports. Cannabis payment processor würk raised $3M.

An executive with real estate company Kalyx Development says this sector of the market is “ buffered” from a crackdown.

L.A. Weekly asks how fear of a federal crackdown is affecting business in the world’s largest cannabis market. I wrote a feature for L.A. Weekly about the industry’s arrival in a down on its luck desert town.

The largest players are losing market share in California’s $300M+ edibles market.

Colorado dispensaries racked up $126.1M in February cannabis sales, the third highest monthly total yet. In Denver, social use could be allowed at some businesses by July. 303 Magazine visits iBAKE, Denver’s “first social smoking club.”

The Economist has more on the first cannabis exchange traded fund. An analyst says Canadian cannabis stocks are “trading like speculative tech stocks.” The ETF climbed in its first week of trading.

Insiders at two of Canada’s largest producers, Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis, have sold shares.

Venture capital investment in cannabis start-ups is beginning to pick up.

Washington state is accepting bids for a new seed to sale tracking system. The current provider, BioTrackTHC said it won’t bid to renew its contract.

Compliance software company Flowhub raised $3.25M.

A Rhode Island court will hear a MED user’s employment discrimination case. The feds still want to know if applicants for government jobs use cannabis.

Some businesses are resisting legislation in Nevada to ban all candy edibles. Baked edibles would still be allowed.
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Health and Science

A panel of Maine lawmakers voted against allowing MED users to receive organ transplants.

A New Jersey man “kind of” won insurance coverage for his MED.

A study found that the impact of MED on health-related quality of life is inconclusive. For analysis see here.

Pennsylvania doctors who want to recommend MED will need a certification won’t be allowed to advertise the service. In Philadelphia, mandatory marijuana rehab uses up resources that could be spent on opioid addicts.

An Australian woman who provides free cannabis oil to terminally ill patients has been arrested and charged.

A Toronto Globe and Mail health columnist suggests decriminalizing all drugs.

The New York Times looks into cannabis and airport security.


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Criminal Justice

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ending a Justice Department partnership with scientists, lawyers and other experts that is designed to raise standards for forensic evidence. The Washington Post’s Radley Balko explains why this is a very bad idea.

Another Washington Post story explains how Jeff Sessions wants to bring back the war on drugs. Sessions has named tough on crime federal prosecutor and former cop Steven H. Cook to lead a nationwide crackdown on violent crime, even though violent crime is near historic lows. Some law enforcement “veterans” of the war on drugs reject Sessions’ strategy.

Mother Jones looked to Sessions time as a federal prosecutor and Alabama attorney general for clues about his plans. A commentator from the libertarian Cato Institute weighs in.

President Trump chose Congressman Tom Marino (R-Pa.) to serve as his new drug czar. Though less powerful than Sessions, Marino appears to have similar ideas about drug enforcement. He recently said he’d like to see non-violent drug users put in a “hospital-slash-prison.”

As a district attorney about 20 years ago, Marino was accused of “ judge shopping” in order to get a friend’s cocaine conviction expunged. “He doesn’t appear to be constrained by any concerns about being hypocritical,” Drug Policy Alliance founder Ethan Nadelmann said. To become drug czar Marino requires Senate confirmation.

To help understand why these views, which don’t have broad public support, are ascendant in Washington I recommend Jonathan Chait’s tangentially related column in New York magazine, “ Donald Trump Is Just George W. Bush But Racist.

Speaking in Arizona, Sessions said, "When they nominated me for attorney general, you would have thought the biggest issue in America was when I said, 'I don't think America's going to be a better place if they sell marijuana at every corner grocery store. "

The Post also explains “ Why the DEA intentionally lets drugs into communities.

The DEA added six synthetic cannabinoids to its list of prohibited schedule one substances.

Authorities in South Dakota subjected a three-year old boy to forced catheterization to obtain a urine sample as part of a child welfare investigation, according to the ACLU. The procedure is more commonly used in the state to obtain urine samples for drug tests.

Richard Kirk, the Denver man who ingested edibles and then fatally shot his wife, was sentenced to 30 years.

The Colorado legislature approved a bill that would make REC growing co-ops a crime.

Even after REC legalization, Blacks are disproportionately arrested for marijuana offenses in D.C.

Dallas City Council voted to reduce penalties for minor possession offenses.

The parents of Michael Swan, a Canadian teenager killed six years ago when armed robbers stole his stash, said the sentencing of someone involved in planning the robbery brings them no comfort. “In another year this will become legal and my son would have died for nothing,” his mother Rea said.

A viral video from the Lake County, Florida, sheriff’s office features SWAT team cops in balaclavas and warns heroin dealers “ We are coming for you, run.” It reminded me of an ISIS video. The U.K. Independent said social media might be the best way to fight a war on drugs.

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Culture

A company has revived Zonk, a smoking game that’s played with dice and dates to at least the 1970s. A video at Merry Jane explains how Zonk can maximize dispensary return on investment.

Cannabis accented virtual reality has arrived in L.A.

Comedian and friend of Snoop Charlie Murphy died.

Netflix is making a miniseries about Mexican drug kingpin “El Chapo.”

There will be a “Kushella” festival near Coachella.

Here's the WeedWeek list of pot journalists on Twitter and the list of cannabusiness people on Twitter. Both are works in progress. Recommendations welcome.

I've also created two political Twitter lists you can subscribe to: Real News and Tweeting the Resistance.

Want to reach a devoted audience of top cannabis professionals? Advertise in WeedWeek. Contact Adrienne Nascimento at weedweekads@gmail.com for details.

Alex


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